Many homeowners are searching for greener options for their home. Whether building or remodeling, there are choices that each homeowner can make to help create a greener living environment for everyone.
1. Shower Head
When you realize that Americans use 1.2 trillion gallons of water showering each year, installing a low-flow shower head seems like a pretty simple, and doable, solution. In fact, you can easily contribute to water conserving efforts because the simple addition of a low-flow shower head to your bathroom can save 2,900 gallons of water each year. That translates to nearly $70 in average energy savings per household. Plus, the cost of a water-efficient shower head is minimal, and installation is easy.
A low-flow toilet is another way to save money and make a greener plumbing choice for your environment. Federal standards require toilets to flush with 1.6 gallons of water, while a low-flow version uses approximately 20 percent less, or 1.2 gallons per flush. The EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, estimates the savings of a low-flow toilet over a standard model to be over $100 per year.
Unfortunately, early models of the low-flow toilet came under scrutiny and were often the butt of many a television sitcom joke because of their poor performance. Luckily, newer models do not have this problem. They work very well. Some manufacturers have even added a 'dual flush' feature which allows users to select between a low-flow flush for liquid waste and a standard flush for solid waste. Generally, switching over to low-flow toilets is not a do-it-yourself project for most homeowners. You will need to use the plumbing services of your local plumber.
3. Tankless Hot Water Heater
Both a regular hot water tank and a tankless version need to use energy to heat water to the proper temperature for your needs in the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room. The energy issue comes into play with storing that water. The standard hot water tank can hold up to 80 gallons of water at optimal temperatures—and keep it that hot—for extended periods of time. If you go away for the weekend, that entire 80 gallons is kept hot, and waiting.
A tankless water heater, on the other hand, merely heats up what you need, as you need it. There is no tank to store hot water. It is an 'on demand' system. A plumber is the best person to call for water heater installation, but even the added cost of the initial installation can be quickly recouped when you consider that the average energy savings are over $1,800 a year per family.
4. Radiant Floor Heat
In-floor heating is one of the most efficient ways to heat a home. Traditional forced air systems literally force hot air into one area of the room and then wait for the room to cool before repeating the process. Radiant floor heating uses either electrical wires or warm water in flexible tubing under the flooring to slowly and continually distribute warmth throughout the entire space. The upfront cost to install a system is higher than a forced air system, but it also most a 30% higher efficiency rate.
5. Grey Water Recycling
The idea of grey water recycling is often misunderstood. Grey water is the water that drains from your sinks, bathtubs, showers, and washing machines as you use them. The water may have come into contact with food or detergents, but is essentially still usable. Some municipalities frown on the use of grey water recycling, but if yours allows it, consider having a licensed plumber install a system for you.
You can re-direct grey water to your lawn and gardens fo an ecologically friendly way to use the water twice. To clarify, black water is water that has come into contact with human waste, and cannot be re-used. It needs to be processed through a home's septic system or through a municipal wastewater treatment plant.
If you want to learn more about green plumbing options, contact your local plumber and find out more ways to use water wisely.